Sheriff's candidate Worrell calls for change in recognizing experience

Thomasboro resident Greg Worrell is seeking the Republican nomination for Champaign County sheriff in the March 20 primary, to succeed Sheriff Dan Walsh, who is retiring.

He is being challenged by Allen Jones Jr. of Rantoul.

There are no Democrats running in the primary, although the party has the option of slating someone to appear on the November ballot.

Worrell said there needs to be a change from the status quo at the top of the sheriff’s office to improve morale. He also pledged to work closely with communities in the county and said staffing levels need to be improved.

The Thomasboro resident said some sheriff’s deputies have encouraged him to run for sheriff to create competition for the post. He said there have been problems with morale in the department.

Worrell cited cliques in upper leadership in which a person with 15 years of experience with an unblemished record is passed over for promotion for someone younger with only three to four years experience but who might be “in the inner circle.”

“That’s what I plan to get rid of,” Worrell said during an interview last week with the Rantoul Press. “Someone who’s built up 15 years of service deserves the best chance of getting promoted.”

Worrell said remaining loyal to those who have the experience has a ripple effect in a department.

“That’s one thing I’ve got over my opponent is loyalty,” Worrell said.

“My top priority will be to review all policies and procedures that may need to be upgraded or possibly changed to insure compliance within the department,” he said.

Worrell, who said he is open to listen to the concerns of all of the county’s residents, said he would create a bi-monthly meeting with the small communities in the county “so they can meet and greet the sheriff and voice their concerns and suggestions for the betterment of their county. Feedback is very important to me and the people I have sworn to protect.”

Worrell, 66, served in the military police from 1975-1995, including 11 of those years at Chanute Air Force Base. He said he was one of the longest-serving security policemen in the history of the base.

A native of St. Paul, Minn., he also served Air Force stints in Colorado, England and Montana. After leaving the Air Force, Worrell returned to Illinois in 1982.

Worrell is a security officer at Lincoln’s Challenge Academy in Rantoul and is a part-time police officer in Fisher. He served as police chief in Thomasboro and Ludlow, including a short time when he was chief of both at the same time.

He earned an associate degree in law enforcement from Oakland Community College in Auburn Heights, Mich., and a bachelor of criminal justice degree online from American International University. He became state-certified as a juvenile officer in 2002.

Worrell said he enjoys his work at Lincoln’s Challenge, noting it’s critical for young people to have a good relationship with law enforcement officials from an early age.

“I know how to deal with people,” Worrell said. “A lot of times, people just want you to hear them out.”

He said the same is true for individuals under one’s command.

Worrell said he favors consolidation of the jail facilities.

He favors specialists to deal with the problem of mental health and opiate addiction.

He said such problems “can be treatable. If we can get them back into society, that can be a win,” Worrell said. “But those who keep breaking the law, that’s what the satellite jail is for.”

The candidate said he would work closely with the state’s attorney and the judges.

Worrell concedes his opponent, Allen Jones Jr., has more administrative experience, “but he works there.”

Worrell said he managed the budget for both the Thomasboro and Ludlow police departments as well as managed the vehicle fleet and personnel reports and enforced all village ordinances, state and federal laws and investigated all crimes and conducted traffic accident investigations as well as responded on all medical calls and completed tasks assigned by the village board.

Worrell said he believes the county’s juvenile justice in-take system needs to be overhauled.

“Many times, too many, I have recalled transporting juveniles to the Juvenile Justice Correctional Center for crimes of violence, only to learn that they did not have enough points to keep them retained in the juvenile detention facility,” Worrell said.

He said they are released to a legal guardian “almost within the hour.”

“Juveniles who get released prematurely are not learning that the crime they committed was wrong and goes without punishment.”



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